George Greer always had a hustle. And a story.
His most-told tale always starts in the same place: Once upon a time he was a kid without a father who lived with grandparents in a place called Belfast in rural Tennessee. There was no electricity or running water in the house.
Young George hit the hustle. He sold skunk and opossum furs. Dubbed "George the Trapper" by passing hobos or local buyers, the pint-sized Belfast businessman also earned money supplying worms to fishermen and the required roots to make sassafras tea.
The legend has appeared at least twice in The Quad-City Times, as well as publications in Florida and Tennessee.
Yet there is one person who listened to every "George the Trapper" story no matter how many times George, 87, told them. Christopher Greer is 30 and George's grandson. Christopher always admired George, saw him as a mentor. They are partners these days.
"It's all true," Christopher said. "I think a lot of people think self-made men like George just kind of shade the stories a bit. Not George. Ever since he was little he saw opportunities. He hustled — and that's what real entrepreneurs do; they see every person you meet as a chance to make a connection.
"That's why George tells those stories. He wants to connect with people."
Christopher talked about his grandfather while sitting inside the showroom at Key Auto Mall in Moline. The duo moved a restored 1925 Buick Master 6 Model 40 into the showroom to share with the wider public.
Photos: Meg McLaughlin's top photos of 2021
Alicia Johnson, of Port Byron, receives a Moderna Covid-19 vaccine from Annette Johnson during Rock Island County’s first mass vaccination clinic at Greater Quad City Auto Auction Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, in Milan. The clinic provided 1000 vaccines to healthcare workers not affiliated with hospital systems.
Rob Storm, of Moline, has ice particles on his glasses and beard as he sculpts an ice structure before the “Icestravaganza 2021: A Chilling Winter at the Freight House” event this weekend Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Davenport. The 3-day event at the Freight House boardwalk will include more than 24,000 pounds of ice. In addition to enjoying the ice sculptures, Icestravaganza attendees can witness the 2021 live ice-carving competition either in person or on Facebook Live from 11 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m. on Saturday. The Family Credit Union will be hosting a warming station with free hot chocolate and a fire put in the Freight House's outdoor patio during the competition, and also every day from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
Shannon Songer pulls up her sleeve to show the scar on her arm she got from being stabbed by her boyfriend in Davenport.
Clinton Prince of Peace senior Anabel Blount, who surpassed 1,000 career points in a game this past season, averaged 15 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.
Heather Mann, a volunteer, kisses her daughter Emma, 7, a first grader, before she heads out to recess during lunch at Hopewell Elementary School Friday, Jan. 22, 2021, in LeClaire.
First grader Emma Mann, 7, plays outside during recess at Hopewell Elementary School Friday, Jan. 22, 2021, in LeClaire.
Renew Moline CEO Alexandra Elias and Moline mayor Stephanie Acri pose for a photo underneath the old I-74 bridge Friday, Jan. 29, 2021, in Moline.
Kate Nelson, of Rock Island, uses a reusable Target bag to cover her head from the snow as she waits for the bus along 16th Street Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2021, in Moline.
Wilton senior Ryan Boeding is this week’s Iowa Pacesetter. Boeding, who swims for Muscatine, won the 50 freestyle at last week's district meet in a school-record time of 21.03 seconds. He'll chase a state championship Saturday in Marion.
Rock Island senior Brooklynn Larson is this week’s Illinois Pacesetter. Larson’s versatility on offense helped carry the Lady Rocks to a 3-0 start in conference play.
Bettendorf's Hattie Aanestad (20) and Lillie Petersen (40) celebrate with assistant coach Scott Lammers after the Bulldogs beat Pleasant Valley during the Class 5A regional girls basketball opener on Feb. 17 before falling to Davenport North on Feb. 20 to close out the season.
Davenport Central freshman bowler Brady Krager is this week’s Iowa Pacesetter. Krager set a Class 3A state scoring record for a two-game series with games of 275 and 287 last week at Cadillac Lanes in Waterloo.
Rockridge's Chris Geier (11) talks with the coaching staff during a timeout of their game against Riverdale at the high school Monday, April 12, 2021, in Edington.
Assumption’s Anna Wohlers competes in the Girls discus at the Drake Relays Thursday, April 22, 2021, in Des Moines.
Martin Luther King Center Executive Director Jerry Jones poses for a photo outside the facility’s mural in Rock Island. Jones has been participating in a program called Together for Tomorrow, which will be part of "The Pitch," an event that will air on KWQC Saturday.
Davenport North's Emma Jouran (00) makes a save against Moline during their match at the high school Athletic Complex Wednesday, April 28, 2021, in Davenport.
Rock Island’s Conner DiIulio tags out Alleman’s Dom Ferrari on a pickoff play at first base in the opener of Thursday's Western Big 6 Conference doubleheader at Douglas Park. The teams split the twinbill.
Rock Island High School graduate LaShae McDuffy holds up a poster that has photos of DeShawn Tatum as she crosses the stage during the commencement ceremony Saturday, June 5, 2021, at the TaxSlayer Center in Moline. Tatum was fatally shot by Rock Island police this past April.
Davenport North High School graduates and family members surround the TaxSlayer Center after commencement ceremonies Sunday, June 6, 2021, in Moline.
Pleasant Valley's Morgan Russmann (33) and Ankeny's Jerra Christensen (7) head the ball during the Class 3A state quarterfinals of the girls soccer tournament in Des Moines. Ankeny prevailed 1-0.
Spencer's Payton Cooper (00) reacts after the Tigers loss to Waverly-Shell Rock during the Class 2A state semifinals Cownie Soccer Complex Wednesday, June 9, 2021, in Des Moines.
Rock Island’s Darrell Woodson leads the 4x100 meter relay during the Class 3A sectional track meet at Almquist Field Thursday, June 10, 2021, in Rock Island.
Contestants hold up their dresses as they run back towards the stage during the Miss Henry County Fair Queen Pageant Tuesday, June 22, 2021, at the Henry County Fairgrounds in Cambridge.
Little Miss Henry County Fair contestants peek from backstage to see the other contestants during the Miss Henry County Fair Queen Pageant Tuesday, June 22, 2021, at the Henry County Fairgrounds in Cambridge.
Harrison Frazar walks across the pedestrian bridge to the tee box on the sixth hole during the first round of the John Deere Classic golf tournament Thursday, July 8, 2021, in Silvis.
Brian Harman is greeted by his children Copper and Walter after finishing his round during the second round of the John Deere Classic golf tournament Friday, July 9, 2021, in Silvis.
Patton Kizzire throws his club after teeing off on the sixth hole during the third round of the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run in Silvis on Saturday. His second shot landed in the green-side bunker after his tee shot landed in the rough. He sank a 1 1/2 foot putt for par after a nearly 43-foot shot out of the bunker.
Physics teacher Matt Deets goes over a lesson with only two students at Geneseo High School Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, in Geneseo.
Pleasant Valley prom court members Jacob Townsend and Anna Thorne walk through the tunnel of students as they are announced during prom at the high school Friday, May 8, 2021, in Bettendorf.
United Township’s David Dierickx wrestles Alleman Anthony Rangle during their 160 pound match on the football practice field at the high school Thursday, May 12, 2021, in Rock Island.
United Township High School graduates Diamond Johnson and Shanelle Shaw hug after the commencement ceremony at the TaxSlayer Center Saturday, June 5, 2021, in Moline.
Central DeWitt's Ben Mason (1) is tagged out at home plate by Waverly-Shell Rock's Luke Shover (9) during the Class 3A quarterfinal at Duane Banks Field Wednesday, July 28, 2021, in Iowa City.
Waverly-Shell Rock players comfort Luke Shover (9), center, as they receive the state participant trophy after losing to Central DeWitt during the Class 3A quarterfinal at Duane Banks Field Wednesday, July 28, 2021, in Iowa City.
Pleasant Valley's Matthew Meyer (24) and Ryan Thoreson (8) collide while attempting to catch a foul ball against Johnston during Saturday's Iowa Class 4A title game. It resulted in a double play for the Spartans.
Pleasant Valley's Max Withers takes a moment at home plate after the Spartans beat Johnston to win the Class 4A state championship at Duane Banks Field Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Iowa City.
Tammy Brewer looks out the bedroom window of her prior residence 801 W. 14th St. on Friday, Aug. 6, in Davenport. Brewer was evicted from her home because of nonpayment of rent despite the property being condemned by the city.
Ameaya Atone, 8, of Moline, plays in the fountains at Schwiebert Park's splash pad Monday, Aug. 9, 2021, in Rock Island. The National Weather Service predicts temperatures to continue to stay in the upper 80s to mid 90s throughout the remainder of the work week.
Yankees starting pitcher Andrew Heaney (38) pretends to pitch with an ear of corn before the The Field of Dreams Game near the movie site Thursday in Dyersville.
before the The Field of Dreams Game near the movie site Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021, in Dyersville.
Yankees designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton (27) has ears of corn in his back pockets during batting practice before The Field of Dreams game.
The White Sox and the Yankees emerge from corn at the Field of Dreams Game near the movie site last August near Dyersville, Iowa. The Quad Cities River Bandits and Cedar Rapids Kernels will play at the same venue on Aug. 9 in the inaugural MiLB at Field of Dreams game.
When they meet in the inaugural MiLB at Field of Dreams Game on Aug. 9, the Quad Cities River Bandits and Cedar Rapids Kernels will experience the same setting that the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees enjoyed last season in the first-ever MLB at Field of Dreams Game at the iconic movie scene near Dyersville, Iowa.
Iowa running back Tyler Goodson (15) poses for a photo during the Iowa Hawkeye football media day on Friday, Aug. 13, 2021 in Iowa City.
St. Ambrose running back T’Nahleg Hall poses for a photo during the Bees football media day at the St. Vincent Athletic Complex on Monday in Davenport.
Davenport Central sophomore swimmer and cross country standout Hannah Ford is this week’s Iowa Pacesetter. Ford won a cross country meet last week in Clinton on Tuesday and then won the 500 freestyle last Thursday in a dual meet against Rock Island.
United Township's Trent Roberts (54) celebrates a tackle against Geneseo during their game at Bob Reade Field Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, in Geneseo.
Iowa running back Ivory Kelly-Martin (21) is taken out by a pair of Iowa State defenders during the Hawkeyes' 27-17 win at Jack Trice Stadium earlier this month.
Iowa running back Ivory Kelly-Martin (21) celebrates with the trophy after the Hawkeyes’ victory over Iowa State during the Cy-Hawk game at Jack Trice Stadium Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in Ames.
Davenport North senior all-state defensive lineman Dominic Wiseman is this week’s Iowa Pacesetter. Wiseman is a four-year starter and has more than 50 tackles for loss and 140 tackles in his career.
Fans watch Rock Island play United Township at Almquist Field Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021, in Rock Island.
Assumption’s Jade Jackson, center, and classmates cheer on the Knights during their game against Central DeWitt at Jack and Pat Bush Stadium Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, in Davenport.
5th grade student Bastian Green hugs fellow Special Olympics participant 8th-grader Marlee Michaelsen during an assembly to celebrate Central DeWitt, a Special Olympics Unified Champion School, becoming a Banner Unified Champion School at the high school Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021, in DeWitt. Central DeWitt is one of three schools in the state of Iowa to receive the honor.
Davenport North's Dominic Wiseman (53) and Holden Phillips (74) sit on the bench as smoke billows through the area during their game against Iowa City High at Brady Street Stadium Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, in Davenport.
Brian Morrisey is not your typical freshman football player at Augustana College. The 22-year-old former Alleman High School standout is back on the football field for the Vikings after serving four years in the Marine Corps.
Iowa fans rush the field after the Hawkeyes win over Penn State at Kinnick Stadium Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, in Iowa City.
Iowa forwards, twins Keegan Murray (15) and Kris Murray (24) pose for a photo during the Hawkeyes’ mens basketball media day at Carver Hawkeye Arena on Monday. Keegan could step up and be a key player for the team this season.
Iowa guard Ahron Ulis (4) poses for a photo during the Hawkeyes’ mens basketball media day at Carver Hawkeye Arena Monday, Oct. 11, 2021, in Iowa City.
April and Claire Wiggins kiss as they picket outside John Deere Davenport Works Thursday, Oct. 14, in Davenport. Over 10,000 John Deere employees began their strike at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.
Moline players sit in the shed during halftime of the first round of the IHSA Class 7A playoffs against Hampshire at Browning Field Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, in Moline.
Augustana’s Gabriela Loiz, Hannah Simmer, Erin Morrisey, Macy Beinborn, and Lauren Hall pose for a photo during the Vikings’ basketball media day Monday, Nov. 1, 2021, in Rock Island.
St. Ambrose’s Mick Chagnon celebrates with the crowd after he beat Augustana’s Ellex Williams in their match Monday night.It was first wrestling competition for SAU.
Pleasant Valley's Grant Necker (40) sheds tears as he listens to head coach Rusty VanWetzinga speak after the Spartans fell to West Des Moines Valley on Friday night in a Class 5A state quarterfinal.
Pleasant Valley senior swimmer Taylor Buhr is this week’s Iowa Pacesetter. Buhr won the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke in season-best times last week at the Clinton regional meet.
Everly Fuller of Andover, 4, does cartwheels over the I-74 bridge during the public celebration over the Mississippi River on Wednesday.
People stroll across the new I-74 bridge during the public celebration Wednesday, Dec. 1.
Michigan's running back Donovan Edwards (7) jumps into the end zone against Iowa’s linebacker Seth Benson (44) during the Big Ten championship football game at Lucas Oil Stadium Saturday, Dec. 3, 2021, in Indianapolis.
Michigan's defensive end Aidan Hutchinson (97) holds the trophy after the Wolverines beat Iowa during the Big Ten championship football game at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday.
Bettendorf senior swimmer Max Wetteland is this week’s Iowa Pacesetter. Wetteland spent the first three years of his swimming career at Davenport Central before moving to Bettendorf this past summer. He was part of two meet records at the Davenport West Relays last Saturday.
Rock Island's Amarion Nimmers (11) hugs Jaylin Randle (5) in the locker room after the Rocks beat Moline last week in a Western Big 6 Conference game.
Moline's Brock Harding (2) goes up for a shot against Rock Island's Terrmell Akers (25) against during their Western Big 6 match up at Wharton Field House Friday, Dec. 10, 2021, in Moline.
Sergeant Bluff-Luton's Majok Majouk (12) reacts after the Warriors beat Western Dubuque in overtime during the Class 3A quarterfinal game at Wells Fargo Arena Tuesday, March 9, 2021, in Des Moines.
A drop of sweat falls off the chin of Dubuque Senior's Cain McWilliams (10) during the Class 4A quarterfinals at Wells Fargo Arena Wednesday, March 10, 2021, in Des Moines.
Western Christian's Ashtin Van’t Hul (3), Des Moines Christian's Grant Veenstra (12) and Ben Loverude (1) box out for a rebound during the Class 2A semifinals at Wells Fargo Arena Thursday, March 11, 2021, in Des Moines.
Johnston and Waukee players anticipate a rebound during the Class 4A state championship game at Wells Fargo Arena Friday, March 12, 2021, in Des Moines.
A United Township player draws eyes on a snowman built during practice at Soule Bowl Tuesday, March 16, 2021, in East Moline.
Jamere Burrage, 17, of Rock Island, and Briar Singleton, 16, of Rock Island, are seen silhouetted as they hang out at Schwiebert Park Monday, March 29, 2021, in Rock Island.
Assumption's Jay Costello (10) is walked off the court after colliding with teammate Assumption's Emarion Ellis (2) during the Class 3A semifinals at Wells Fargo Arena Thursday, March 11, 2021, in Des Moines.
Moline's Robert Pulliam (5) dunks against Rock Island during their Western Big 6 match up at Wharton Field House Friday, Dec. 10, 2021, in Moline.
"It was Christopher's idea," George explained. "I have this car. I spent a bundle to fix it up and I wanted people to see it. They sell Buick here, and Christopher thought the folks here at Key might want to show it off. It's not for money. We just want to show it off."
Later, as George chatted up a Key salesman, Christopher tried to pull apart the reasons he feels so close to his grandfather.
"OK, we don't talk about this much. My father spent 21 years in prison. He was always my father, and I always saw him, and we are close in our way," Christopher said. "But I didn't have my dad physically there. George was around and spent time with me.
"It was me and my mom until she got married again, and I did everything I could to make money. I shoveled snow, sold jeans. When I was 10, I started working at Jim's Repairing. I took any job that would take me."
Christopher has hustle. But he first made newsprint for a non-violent drug crime that cost him a year in jail.
"I hadn't really learned what George is really saying with his stories," Christopher said. "My grandmother, Tracey Greer, that was George's third wife, she died three months after I got out.
"I wanted to be there for George. The part about George not knowing his father's name. It's true. I started to think about the opportunity I had to learn from my grandfather. That changed things for me."
These days Christopher is poised to open a barbershop and continues to help George.
"I'm my own person," Christopher said. "I can't do everything George did, but he's shown me a way to go about life and business. Be honest. Work hard. George is getting older. I know what's coming, and it scares me. So I listen and try to learn as much as I can."
George is a tough act to follow and possesses the resume of a real self-made entrepreneur. He earned a college degree before working for the Alter Company as an analytical chemist, then he moved on to manage his own office-cleaning business.
Ever the opportunist, George developed a biodegradable cleaning solution and mixing system and marketed it to urban transit companies for cleaning interiors and exteriors of buses. Along the way he founded the Greco Company.
In the early 1990s, he retired and helped Tracey establish APEE Ltd. to manufacture Greco products and equipment.
Remembering the days of cleaning buses, George recalled one of his most successful ventures.
"It was 1968 and I was in Galesburg, Illinois," George said. "I was standing on the street and a woman riding this adult tricycle rode by. I had never seen a bike like it.
"I asked her, 'Why don't you take a bus? You're out here on a tricycle in the middle of traffic.' She told me 'The buses are too dirty.' That started it. I went to the city, then I went to the bus garage, and by the end of the day I had a contract to clean the buses in Galesburg."
Christopher chuckled softly and shook his head.
"Christopher, he's my grandson and good friend," George said. "He's heard it all from me, but he keeps listening. I always tell him that the harder I worked, the luckier I got.
"You just have to be honest. And you have to help people whenever you can."